Friday, February 03, 2017

[263] MTSU Chinese music center hosts free ‘dueling dulcimers’ concert Jan. 27

MURFREESBORO — Who is the ultimate master of the hammered dulcimer — a national champion from Tennessee or a Fulbright scholar from China?

Without engaging in an actual competition, two of the world’s best hammered dulcimer players will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in the Wright Music Building.

The event, which is presented by the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture, will feature Yuening Liu, a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and United States national dulcimer champion David Mahler.

This event is free and open to the public. A printable campus parking map is available at

A trapezoid-shaped stringed instrument, the American hammered dulcimer is struck with spoon-shaped mallets. Traditionally, it is used in the U.S. in folk music.

Mahler, a Nashville-based composer and instrumentalist, holds the record for being the youngest musician ever to capture the Walnut Valley National Hammered Dulcimer Championship in Winfield, Kansas. He won the title in 2004 at the age of 14. He plays the instrument in traditional Appalachian, European folk and classical styles, as well as with contemporary folk-rock and pop bands.

“The neat thing about the dulcimer is that it kind of has a clean slate,” Mahler wrote on his Facebook page. “There is minimal music written on it, and everyone varies on which techniques are best. For me, that means the sky is the limit. Anything is possible on this instrument, and I seek to explore all the intricacies that God created it with.”

Liu has served as a visiting professor at universities in the United States, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. She was enrolled by the prestigious Fulbright Program as a research scholar in 2016. In 2008, she founded Jasmine Ensemble, the first group in China to perform classic Chinese and international musical works with the yangqin, or Chinese hammered dulcimer, in an ensemble format.

“Don’t expect just pretty mountain music as they pound every bit of music out of their strings,” said Mei Han, director of the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture.

Han will join Liu and Mahler on stage to play the zheng, an instrument that has a long rectangular sound box with 21 strings on top. It is known as an Asian long zither. Other performers who will join Liu and Mahler on stage include hammered dulcimer artist Mi Xuanye and Dong Nan, who will play the pipa, a four-stringed lute.

For more information, contact Han at 615-898-5118 or

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